recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : matatus   1

Engineering a mass-transit app for a city without mass-transit - Quartz
"In 2014, a research collaboration between the University of Nairobi, Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development, Groupshot, and MIT’s Civic Design Lab yielded a project dubbed “Digital Matatus”. Their goal was to develop a better understanding of Nairobi’s informal transit system.

To get the data, a team of volunteers were armed with GPS-tracking cellphones, and told to ride the matatus as usual.

Using that raw data, researchers cobbled together an exhaustive list of matatus routes, arrival times, and stop locations. They then converted it into GTFS, which is the standard way for transit agencies to publish their scheduled data on the web.

The final step was to comb through the chaos of that data, and find out how Nairobi’s informal transit system was functioning in vivo.

When they saw the findings, they were shocked.

Despite the lack of government coordination between matatus, the market doesn’t yield a slapdash tangle of contradictory bus lines.

Instead, it responds to demand with a surprisingly logical transit network.

There is a remarkable method to the madness: matatus follow 130 regular routes, congregate around the same stops, and do so at frequencies designed to maximize revenue.

The network isn’t perfect: downtown routes are often jammed, and less popular areas can be under-served. But for a system without any centralized planning, Nairobi’s performs rather well.

And when the researchers printed their findings out onto a map, they looked surprisingly similar to the sort of systems we’ve mapped ourselves in Berlin, Toronto, and San Francisco!

What’s more amazing is that the matatu system has evolved to deal with congestion. An (albeit imperfect) equilibrium has been met between routes travelling down highways, arterials, and local roads. All things told, Nairobi’s informal transit system has adapted extremely well to extremely difficult circumstances.

Extremely difficult circumstances, but ones that haven’t deterred us.

Using the data collected from the Digital Matatu project, Transit App will be the first public transportation app to integrate Nairobi’s transit system.

Before, the lack of public transit information forced commuters to plan their day around the particular matatus they happened to be familiar with.

But now commuters in the city will have the flexibility to find which ride will get them to their destination at their own personal convenience. They can access a list of nearby routes — where to board, how frequently they arrive, and where they’ll stop.

And if riders need to go somewhere new? Our trip planner will tell them how to get there. This capability is important: one of the discoveries of the Digital Matatus project was that some Nairobians don’t take the most efficient routes — simply because they don’t know the options. Even Google Maps doesn’t support transit in Nairobi yet."

[Also available here: https://medium.com/@transitapp/hello-nairobi-cc27bb5a73b7 ]
nairobi  kenya  africa  informaleconomy  mobile  phones  transportation  publictransportation  masstransit  2015  technology  matatus  cities  urban  urbanism  digitalmatatu  transit  buses  application  transitapp  maps  mapping 
march 2015 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read